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Being Drunk vs. Being High

Discover the contrasting effects of being drunk vs. being high. Explore the physical and mental signs, health risks, and safety precautions.

April 17, 2024

Understanding Intoxication

When it comes to intoxication, both being drunk and being high have distinct effects on the body and mind.

Effects on the Body

Drinking too much alcohol on a single occasion or over time can have serious consequences for health. Alcohol's impact on the body extends to various organs, including the brain, heart, liver, pancreas, and immune system. Excessive alcohol consumption can damage the brain's communication pathways, leading to impaired cognitive functions, memory issues, and increased risk of mental health disorders such as depression and dementia. The heart can also suffer from heavy alcohol use, with potential effects including weakened heart function, increased risk of heart disease, and a higher chance of death from heart-related issues. Additionally, chronic alcohol abuse can harm the liver, causing liver damage, cirrhosis, and alcoholic fatty liver disease.

Marijuana, on the other hand, affects the body differently. While it doesn't have the same immediate impact on organs like alcohol, it does impair certain bodily functions. Marijuana can slow down the body's responses to sights and sounds, making it dangerous for individuals to operate vehicles while under its influence. It can also cause sleepiness, distort perception of time and space, impair night vision, and reduce the ability to handle a quick series of tasks while driving.

Effects on the Mind

Both alcohol and marijuana have profound effects on the mind.

Alcohol consumption can impair cognitive functions such as thinking, decision-making, and memory. It can also contribute to mental health issues such as depression and dementia, and cause painful nerve damage that may persist even after sobriety. Additionally, chronic heavy drinking is associated with an increased risk of certain types of cancers and can weaken the immune system, making the body more susceptible to infections.

Marijuana use can also impact cognitive abilities, particularly in those who began using at a young age or have a history of heavy use. Studies suggest that cumulative lifetime exposure to marijuana can lead to lower scores on verbal memory tests, even after adjusting for various factors. Persistent marijuana use disorder with frequent use starting in adolescence has been linked to a loss of IQ points in mid-adulthood, with heavy use during adulthood not resulting in IQ point loss. Chronic exposure to THC, the active compound in marijuana, may accelerate age-related loss of neurons in the hippocampus, the brain area responsible for memory formation.

Understanding the effects that alcohol and marijuana have on both the body and mind is crucial for individuals to make informed decisions about their consumption and prioritize their overall well-being.

Alcohol Intoxication

When comparing the effects of being drunk versus being high, it is important to understand the impact of alcohol intoxication on health and the risks associated with impaired driving.

Impact on Health

Drinking too much alcohol on a single occasion or over time can have serious consequences for health. Alcohol affects various organs and systems in the body, including the brain, heart, liver, pancreas, and immune system [1]. Excessive alcohol consumption can damage the brain's communication pathways, leading to impaired cognitive functions such as decision-making and memory. It can also contribute to mental health issues like depression and dementia.

The heart is also vulnerable to the effects of alcohol. Heavy drinking can weaken the heart muscle and impair its ability to pump blood effectively, increasing the risk of heart disease and potentially leading to fatal outcomes [2]. Moreover, chronic heavy alcohol use is associated with an increased risk of various cancers, including those affecting the mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, breast, and intestines. Alcohol consumption facilitates the entry of cancer-causing chemicals into cells, contributing to the development of cancer.

The liver, a vital organ responsible for detoxification, is particularly susceptible to alcohol-related damage. Heavy drinking can lead to liver diseases such as cirrhosis, alcoholic fatty liver disease, and liver inflammation. These conditions can have long-term effects on liver function and overall health.

Impaired Driving

One of the significant risks associated with alcohol intoxication is impaired driving. Alcohol impairs cognitive functions, coordination, and reaction times, making it dangerous to operate a vehicle under the influence. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), approximately 31 percent of all driving fatalities in the U.S. in 2014 were alcohol-related. Driving under the influence of alcohol not only endangers the intoxicated individual but also poses a threat to the safety of others on the road.

It is essential to recognize the dangers of impaired driving and to make responsible choices when consuming alcohol. Designated drivers, rideshare services, or public transportation can provide safer alternatives to driving under the influence. By prioritizing safety and being aware of the potential consequences, individuals can help reduce the risks associated with alcohol intoxication and impaired driving.

Marijuana Intoxication

When it comes to marijuana intoxication, there are various effects on the body and mind. Understanding these effects is crucial for individuals who want to make informed decisions regarding marijuana use.

Driving Under the Influence

Marijuana significantly affects driving abilities by slowing down responses to sights and sounds, making it dangerous to operate a vehicle. It can induce sleepiness, distort the sense of time and space, and impair the ability to adapt to light and dark. Handling a quick series of tasks while driving becomes more challenging, particularly regarding reaction time to unexpected events, such as a car approaching from a side street or a child running into the street. These effects are even more pronounced at night, as marijuana causes a severe loss of night vision. Therefore, driving under the influence of marijuana is strongly discouraged [3].

Health Effects

The short-term health effects of marijuana use can vary based on the method of consumption. When marijuana is smoked, the effects are felt almost immediately, lasting from 1 to 3 hours. However, when marijuana is consumed in foods or beverages, significantly less THC (the main psychoactive compound in marijuana) is delivered to the bloodstream compared to smoking an equivalent amount. Effects from consuming marijuana in food or drinks usually appear after 30 minutes to 1 hour and may last for many hours, potentially leading to unintended consumption of more THC.

In the long term, chronic and frequent use of marijuana can lead to physical dependence, resulting in withdrawal symptoms that can peak within the first week of quitting and last for up to 2 weeks. Symptoms of marijuana withdrawal may include irritability, anger, depression, insomnia, and decreased appetite. Additionally, studies suggest that persistent marijuana use can cause functional impairment in cognitive abilities, with the extent of impairment depending on factors such as the age of initiation, amount used, and duration of use. Persistent use starting in adolescence has been associated with lower scores on a verbal memory test, even after adjusting for various factors.

It is important to note that there are no reported cases of an individual dying solely from marijuana use. However, high doses of THC or using more marijuana than intended can lead to unpleasant side effects such as paranoia, anxiety, and in rare cases, psychotic episodes involving hallucinations or delusions.

By being aware of the impact of marijuana intoxication on driving abilities and health, individuals can make informed choices regarding its use and ensure their own safety and well-being.

Contrasting Effects

When comparing the effects of being drunk and being high, there are distinct differences in the physical and mental signs exhibited by individuals in each state.

Physical Signs

Physical signs can help differentiate between being high on weed and being drunk on alcohol. While some signs may overlap, others are specific to each state. Here are some physical signs associated with being high and being drunk:

Physical Signs Being High on Weed Being Drunk on Alcohol
Pupils Dilated Constricted
Coordination Impaired Impaired
Eyes Bloodshot Bloodshot

The dilation of pupils often indicates marijuana use, while constricted pupils are commonly associated with alcohol intoxication. Bloodshot eyes can be a common indicator of both weed and alcohol consumption. Impaired coordination is frequently observed in both states and can be a prominent indicator of intoxication.

Mental Signs

Mental signs can also provide insights into whether someone is high or drunk. Here are some mental signs associated with being high and being drunk:

Mental Signs Being High on Weed Being Drunk on Alcohol
Paranoia and Anxiety Possible Possible
Distorted Perception Yes Yes
Laughter Unusual laughter Excessive or inappropriate laughter
Mood Swings Euphoria, relaxation, heightened happiness, impatience, restlessness, or despair Euphoria, impatience, restlessness, or despair

Both being high on weed and being drunk on alcohol can lead to paranoia and anxiety in some individuals. Distorted perception, such as altered sensory experiences and distorted sense of time, can occur in both states. Unusual laughter can be a symptom of being high on marijuana or intoxicated with alcohol. Mood swings are also common in both states, with individuals experiencing a range of emotions including euphoria, relaxation, heightened happiness, impatience, restlessness, or despair.

Understanding these contrasting physical and mental signs can help in distinguishing between being high and being drunk. It's important to note that the effects and severity of these signs can vary depending on the individual and the amount of substance consumed.

Remember, the consumption of alcohol or marijuana should always be done responsibly and within legal limits. If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, it is recommended to seek professional help from healthcare providers or addiction treatment centers.

Risks of Crossfading

When it comes to consuming alcohol and cannabis, combining the two by crossfading can lead to more intense and unpredictable effects compared to consuming either substance individually. Crossfading refers to the consumption of alcohol and cannabis simultaneously or within close proximity to each other. This practice can have significant implications for both physical and mental well-being.

Combined Effects

Combining alcohol and cannabis can result in a range of combined effects that can impair judgment, coordination, decision-making, and increase the risk of negative physical side effects. The simultaneous use of these substances can intensify their respective effects, leading to a heightened state of intoxication.

One of the risks of crossfading is the potential for an increased impairment of motor skills and cognitive functioning. Both alcohol and cannabis can individually impair coordination and reaction times. When used together, these impairments can be exacerbated, making basic tasks such as driving or operating machinery even more dangerous.

Moreover, crossfading can lead to a higher risk of negative physical side effects. The combination of alcohol and cannabis can result in intensified symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and dizziness. The interaction between these substances can also produce an increased heart rate and blood pressure, potentially placing additional strain on the cardiovascular system.

Safety Precautions

To minimize the risks associated with crossfading, it is important to exercise caution and take appropriate safety precautions. Consider the following measures:

  1. Know your limits: Understand your tolerance levels for both alcohol and cannabis. It is important to be aware of how each substance affects you individually before attempting to combine them.

  2. Moderation is key: Consume alcohol and cannabis in moderation. Avoid excessive intake, as this can significantly increase the risks of crossfading.

  3. Plan ahead: If you choose to crossfade, make sure you have a safe and reliable plan for transportation. Never drive under the influence of alcohol or cannabis, as it can have severe legal and safety consequences.

  4. Stay hydrated: Alcohol and cannabis can both contribute to dehydration. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and minimize potential side effects.

  5. Seek support: If you find that you are frequently crossfading or struggling with substance use, consider reaching out to a healthcare professional or a support group for guidance and assistance.

By being aware of the combined effects and taking appropriate safety precautions, individuals can make more informed decisions when it comes to crossfading. However, it is important to remember that the safest approach is to consume alcohol and cannabis separately and responsibly, prioritizing one's well-being and the well-being of others.


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